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New Year's Eve Roundup: Akebono vs. Sapp Rematch, KID/Masato Off and More

  • Published in Kickboxing

For the first time in a while it feels like there is a lot of movement in Japan when it comes to New Year's Eve. Inoki will be holding his annual Inoki Bom Ba Ye event, Nobuyuki Sakikabara has returned with RIZIN FF and there has been talk of TBS's Kyokugen airing a special exhibition bout between KID Yamamoto and MASATO.

The KID Yamamoto vs. Masato bout was lining up to be a bit of a strange one. Kyokugen is not a fight show, in fact, it's just a New Year's Eve variety show, but TBS, remembering the crazy ratings that they got from KID vs. Masato before, were dedicated to trying to rekindle some sort of spark with a rematch of sorts. Of sorts. The bout was originally planned to be an exhibition bout between the two men, most likely happening in a television studio and not in an arena. Oh yeah, and it was scheduled to be one round. There was never going to be a real fight because Yamamoto is under contract to the UFC. But none of that matters now as it looks like the fight is in danger due to KID Yamamoto's chest tattoo. Over the past few years Yamamoto has gone deeper into the realm of tattoos and now has a giant bird and snake on his torso and this is a big deal in Japan. I'm not sure that I get it, either, just make him wear a rash guard. For what it's worth the fight is still listed on TBS's official site.

IGF Inoki Bom Ba Ye will the the standard issue Inoki event that mixes MMA fights with professional wrestling and hopefully he bring in some bigger name kickboxers for pro wrestling like he has in the past. Not that the wrestling is ever good, just that it's a pretty cool spectacle is all. There are currently only two matches on the card thus far, one of which is a pro wrestling match, the other is Shinya Aoki against former K-1 kickboxer Montonha Silva. 

As for RIZIN, man, who even knows. There is so much going on with RIZIN right now and most of it is just crazy. Fedor Emelianenko was originally to fight Jaideep Singh and then we heard that they changed that because fans were upset, then we heard that Jaideep was out of shape anyway, so he couldn't fight. Then it was Tsuyoshi Kosakha, but now TK is fighting someone else instead. 

On the 29th RIZIN will hold an event that supposedly is Sakuraba's retirement (yeah, right). Sakuraba is scheduled to face Shinya Aoki. Tsuyoki Kosakha is scheduled to fight James "The Colossus" Thompson, AJ Matthews against Anatoly Tokov and Yuki Motoya vs. Nam Jin Jo.

The 31st is the big one, though. That is the event that is featuring Fedor Emelianenko against a mysterious question mark, Estonian sumo wrestler Kaido Hoovelson will step into the ring against another set of question marks as well, hoping to usher in a new era of sumo superstardom not seen since Akebono. BJJ dynamo Gabi Garcia makes her MMA debut against professional wrestler Lei'd Tapa and RENA from Shootboxing is scheduled to fight Jleana Valentino.

Just announced today was the rematch to end all rematches in Bob Sapp vs. Akebono. Originally they met at K-1 PREMIUM 2003 Dynamite!! in a bout that saw Sapp take the win during his rise to prominence in Japan. Now, many years later, both men will meet again. This time not in K-1 rules, but instead MMA rules. Yikes.

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Surprise! Fedor Really is Fighting Jaideep, Plus Masato vs. KID is Still On

  • Published in Kickboxing

New Year's Eve is rapidly approaching and now that Star Wars has been released there is nothing in between us and New Year's Eve. Okay, maybe a few holidays, but still, it's just a matter of days now and we are finally getting some clarification on what we can all expect to go down. Remember how initially it was reported that Fedor Emelianenko would be fighting Jaideep Singh, then RIZIN FF and Jerry Millen denied it? Well, I can't find Millen's tweet anymore, because he's that kind of guy, but that did, indeed happen. 

Now, today, RIZIN FF sent out a press release announcing Fedor vs. Jaideep. 

Go figure, right?

On another front, remember how we said before that it looked like KID Yamamoto vs. Masato was in peril because of KID Yamamoto's tattoos? Apparently that fight is still on and while it will still be an exhibition, it will no longer be just a single round, it will now be three rounds. 

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Remembering Masato's Awesome Career, New StillWill Highlight Reel

  • Published in Video

Our good friend Will, known as StillWill has made yet another of his highlight reels. You might remember his Badr Hari, Gokhan Saki or Melvin Manhoef videos. Well, this time around it is the retired, yet incredible, Masato. Masato was the kingpin of the K-1 MAX division since the inception of the division. The division was actually created with him in mind, a conglomeration of TBS and FEG, knowing that they had a huge star at their disposal by the way of Masato.

Masato was a rare combination of raw talent, skill, refinement, looks, charisma and just being a likable guy. Masato was a cultural icon in Japan; he appeared in films, television shows, newspapers, advertisements, everything. When Masato changed his hair, every major television personality had to follow suit, emulating his look. Masato was a trend-setter, really. Then there was his kickboxing career, as he is truly one of the greats in the 70kgs division. Many would argue the Greatest of all Time, and I'd be hard-pressed to argue that right now.

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Masato and KID Yamamoto the Kings of Fight Sport on NYE, Rizin Did Okay

  • Published in Kickboxing

After many years of not having much to talk about from Japan on New Year's Eve there has been a metric shit-ton to talk about instead. The big event was Rizin FF on New Year's Eve, which pulled out all of the stops to try to emulate the glory days of Japanese MMA and kickboxing. The show was both successful and kind of a mess, all depending on the situation. Fujii TV has not had a NYE event based on fighting in well over ten years, with TBS being the network that aired the K-1/DREAM Dynamite!! cards.

The peak rating for Rizin FF was 7.3%, which many are seeing as a win. Kyokugen, the event that the Masato/KID exhibition happened on drew 9.0%, while the Red and Blue Festival reigned supreme as always with 39%.

Is this a win for Japanese fighting sports, or simply a collective delusion? That much remains to be seen. The next Rizin event is scheduled for April and we'll know more then. Interestingly enough fans were more interested in the return of Masato and KID Yamamoto, in a rematch from the K-1 MAX glory days. 

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VIDEO: Masato's Fight With Takanori Gomi From New Year's Eve

  • Published in Kickboxing

While the legendary Masato may be retired, that doesn't mean that he doesn't like to entertain audiences from time-to-time. For the second year in a row, Masato participated in an exhibition bout for the New Year's Eve variety show Kyokugen in Japan. Last year was a bout with rival KID Yamamoto, while this year was a kickboxing exhibition bout with PRIDE lightweight legend Takanori Gomi.

Both men were a huge part of the boom years of Japan's obsession with kakutougi and this fight did take a back seat to RIZIN due to its nature, but it's still worth a watch and has some really crazy moments for two guys fighting for essentially nothing but fun.

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